Video of UAE school bully ‘attacking’ classmate sparks outrage

A recent survey revealed that nearly a third of students in the UAE have suffered daily bullying. (File/Shutterstock)
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Updated 13 February 2020

Video of UAE school bully ‘attacking’ classmate sparks outrage

  • Girl can be heard threatening classmate while pulling her hair and swearing
  • Research revealed in 2019 one third of UAE students suffered daily bullying

DUBAI: The GEMS Education company, which recently announced a multimillion-dollar expansion into Saudi Arabia, has confirmed that a viral video that appears to show a bullying incident was filmed in one of its schools and that “appropriate action has been taken.”

The video has caused widespread upset and prompted social media influencers to condemn what many describe as disturbing images.

In the video that was widely shared on Twitter, a female student can be seen tugging on another girl’s hair before threatening her and dragging her around by her sweater.

It lasts nearly one minute and shows the girl forcibly pulling her victim’s hair. The victim then appears to cry before trying to walk away.

The other girl grabs her arm, telling the girl that she wants to talk to her.

As her victim sobs, the attacker tells her not to tell anyone about what has happened, adding “I will get really mad.”

It has not been revealed what provoked the attack.

In a statement a GEMS Education spokesman said: “We are aware of an earlier incident at one of our schools and can confirm that appropriate action has already been taken in accordance with our safeguarding policy. The school acted promptly to investigate and resolve the issue, and we will continue to prioritize the safety, security and well-being of all our students.”

Detailing actions the company is taking to combat bullying, a spokesperson added: “GEMS Education takes a zero-tolerance stance when it comes to all forms of bullying. The safety, security and well-being of each and every one of our students is an uncompromisable priority across all our schools.

“This is why we have a dedicated central Safeguarding Team, Safeguarding Leads and pastoral teams in every school, training for staff, as well as policies and procedures for addressing and resolving cases judiciously and effectively.”

School takes ‘necessary steps’

According to the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), which governs Dubai’s schools, the latest incident took place about a month ago — but the video went viral earlier this week after it was posted on Twitter on Sunday.

“The safety and well-being of all students at Dubai’s private schools is a top priority for us. Following an investigation into the incident, we can confirm the school has already taken necessary steps to resolve the matter,” a KHDA spokesman said.

“We want to reassure the community that our schools, educators and parents are committed to continue providing a safe, caring and positive learning environment to all students in Dubai.”

The video has sparked widespread outrage, with many calling for more action.

Parents ‘need to know their children’

Social influencer Karen Wazen, who has 2.4 million followers on her Instagram account, discussed the video and her concerns about bullying in a recent post.

“It was really disturbing to watch,” the concerned mother-of-three tells viewers. “But I think more importantly it was disturbing to actually accept the fact that this happens. This happens closer to home than you can imagine. This could happen to your children. Your children could also be the bullies.”

She said bullying was an important issue that needed to be addressed, and acknowledged that her own children could be exposed to bullying.

Wazen said it was important for children to feel they could be open with their parents.

Parents had a responsibility to know who their children mixed with, she said. Her post has received more than 102,400 likes.

 

One-third of UAE students suffer daily bullying

A recent survey by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development revealed that nearly a third of UAE students are bullied on a daily basis, while 31 percent are bullied a few times a month.

In July, 2019, the UAE Ministry of Education held a week of events aimed at combating bullying in the country.

In October, 2018 Saudi Arabia announced an $800 million, 10-year plan to build schools across the Kingdom in partnership with the UAE-based education company GEMS.

And in August, 2019, it was announced that Ma’arif Education and Training Company had been acquired by a joint venture involving GEMS Education KSA.

Ma’arif private schools was established in 1971 in Saudi Arabia and has more than 13 campuses across the Kingdom, with more than 20,000 students.


‘No way we can rebuild’: Lebanese count huge losses after Beirut blast

Updated 07 August 2020

‘No way we can rebuild’: Lebanese count huge losses after Beirut blast

  • The search for those missing since Tuesday’s blast intensified overnight, as rescuers sifted rubble in a frantic race to find anyone still alive after the explosion
  • The government has promised a full investigation and put several port employees under house arrest

BEIRUT: Beirut residents began trying to rebuild their shattered lives on Friday after the biggest blast in the Lebanese capital’s history tore into the city, killing at least 154 and leaving the heavily indebted nation with another huge reconstruction bill.
The search for those missing since Tuesday’s blast intensified overnight, as rescuers sifted rubble in a frantic race to find anyone still alive after the explosion smashed a swathe of the city and sent shockwaves around the region.
Security forces fired teargas at a furious crowd late on Thursday, as anger boiled over at the government and a political elite, who have presided over a nation that was facing economic collapse even before the deadly port blast injured 5,000 people.
The small crowd, some hurling stones, marked a return to the kind of protests that had become a feature of life in Beirut, as Lebanese watched their savings evaporate and currency disintegrate, while government decision-making floundered.
“There is no way we can rebuild this house. Where is the state?” Tony Abdou, an unemployed 60-year-old, sitting in the family home in Gemmayze, a district that lies a few hundred meters from the port warehouses where highly explosive material was stored for years, a ticking time bomb next to a densely populated area.
As Abdou spoke, a domestic water boiler fell through the ceiling of his cracked home, while volunteers from the neighborhood turned out on the street to sweep up debris.
“Do we actually have a government here?” said taxi driver Nassim Abiaad, 66, whose cab was crushed by falling building wreckage just as he was about to get into the vehicle.
“There is no way to make money anymore,” he said.
The government has promised a full investigation and put several port employees under house arrest. State news agency NNA said 16 people were taken into custody. But for many Lebanese, the explosion was symptomatic of the years of neglect by the authorities while state corruption thrived.
Shockwaves
Officials have said the blast, whose seismic impact was recorded hundreds of miles (kilometers) away, might have caused losses amounting to $15 billion — a bill the country cannot pay when it has already defaulted on its mountain of national debt, exceeding 150% of economic output, and talks about a lifeline from the International Monetary Fund have stalled.
Hospitals, many heavily damaged as shockwaves ripped out windows and pulled down ceilings, have been overwhelmed by the number of casualties. Many were struggling to find enough foreign exchange to buy supplies before the explosion.
In the port area, rescue teams set up arc lights to work through the night in a dash to find those still missing, as families waited tensely, slowly losing hope of ever seeing loved ones again. Some victims were hurled into the sea because of the explosive force.
The weeping mother of one of the missing called a prime time TV program on Thursday night to plead with the authorities to find her son, Joe. He was found — dead — hours later.
Lebanese Red Cross Secretary General George Kettaneh told local radio VDL that three more bodies had been found in the search, while the health minister said on Friday the death toll had climbed to 154. Dozens are still unaccounted for.
Charbel Abreeni, who trained port employees, showed Reuters pictures on his phone of killed colleagues. He was sitting in a church where the head from the statue of the Virgin Mary had been blown off.
“I know 30 port employees who died, two of them are my close friends and a third is missing,” said the 62-year-old, whose home was wrecked in the blast. His shin was bandaged.
“I have nowhere to go except my wife’s family,” he said. “How can you survive here, the economy is zero?“
Offers of immediate medical and food aid have poured in from Arab states, Western nations and beyond. But none, so far, address the bigger challenges facing a bankrupt nation.
French President Emmanuel Macron came to the city on Thursday with a cargo from France. He promised to explain some “home truths” to the government, telling them they needed to root out corruption and deliver economic reforms.
He was greeted on the street by many Lebanese who asked for help in ensuring “regime” change, so a new set of politicians could rebuild Beirut and set the nation on a new course.
Beirut still bore scars from heavy shelling in the 1975-1990 civil war before the blast. After the explosion, chunks of the city once again look like a war zone.